Pasta & Grains

la beef cheek mac n cheese

COMMENTS: This grown up mac n cheese from 'the other crumb' blog is seriously tasty and perfect to freeze and reheat.


COMMENTS: This salad from "The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook" is a filling meal within itself. I used a grains mix instead of farro & it worked well.

215g uncooked farro, or pearl barley
950mls water or stock
2 tabs olive oil
225g carrots (about 4 medium)
450g parsnips (about 2 large)
4 tabs fresh mint leaves
110g crumble feta

5 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon harissa or to taste
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more to taste
pinch of ground cummin

Bring the farro, water or stock & a few pinches of salt to a boil. Once it's boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until tender, for about 15 to 20 mins. If any extra water or stock remains, drain it. Set aside the grains.
Preheat your oven to 180*C. Coat two large baking sheets with one tablespoon olive oil each. Peel carrots and parsnips and cut them into 5cm lengths. Spread vegetables on prepared baking sheets, and sprinkle them with salt. Roast for 20 minutes, then toss before roasting for a further 10 minutes.
To assemble salad, whisk the dressing ingredients together, seasoning to taste with pinches of salt. Use more harissa if you'd like more heat. In a large bowl, combine farro and roasted vegetables. Stir in most of the mint & feta then stir in dressing before topping with reserved mint & feta.


COMMENTS: This vegetarian lasagne from "What Katie Ate" was really tasty and a great alternative to the usual version!


COMMENTS: This is another quick pasta dish from "Nigellisima" which is perfect for mid-week dinner. Great to make ahead and reheat.


60ml garlic oil
300g pancetta cubes
300g frozen peas
500g orzo pasta
1250ml boiling water
salt, to taste
2 tablespoons soft unsalted butter
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan
pepper to salt

Warm the oil in a heavy-based 22cm casserole or saucepan. Cook the pancetta, stirring, until it becomes crisp and bronzed, then add the peas and stir for a minutes or so until they defrost a little.
Add the pasta and turn it about in the pancetta and peas then pour in the boiling water. Add salt then turn down the heat and leave to simmer for 10 minutes, though check on it a couple of times and give a stir or two to stop it from sticking and to see if you need to add a little more water from the kettle.
When its ready the pasta should be soft and starchy and the water absorbed. Beat the butter and Parmesan into the pan and serve immediately.


COMMENTS: This lemony risotto from an old 'delicious' is a really tasty mid week dinner. I added calarmari rings to it too.


225g sugar snap peas
120g zucchini, thickly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
250g arborio rice
1 garlic clove, crushed
225g button mushrooms, sliced
juice and grated rind of 1 lemon
3 cups fish or vegetable stock
300g cooked prawns, peeled, tails intact
3 tablespoons flat leaf parsley

Blanch sugar snap peas and zucchini in boiling water for 1 minute, then drain, refresh under cold water and drain again. Set aside.
Heat oil in a large frypan, add onion and saffron, and cook over low heat for 2-3 minutes or until onion is softened but not coloured. Add the rice, garlic and mushrooms and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add lemon rind and a third of the stock and simmer, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid is absorbed. Repeat twice by separately add the remaining thirds of the stock.
Add prawns, blanched vegetables and lemon juice and cook for 1-2 minutes or until heated through. Stir in parsley and season. 


COMMENTS: One of the many pastas from 'Nigellissima' this one attracted me as quite different with the sultanas and almonds. It was a great combination of the sweet from the sultanas with the salty anchovies, spicy capers and the hearty almonds. Easy to make the sauce in advance and store in the fridge until you are ready to cook the pasta.


500g fusilli or other pasta of your choice
salt for pasta water, to taste
250g cherry tomatoes
6 anchovy fillets
25g golden sultanas
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tablespoons capers, drained
50g blanched almonds
60mls extra-virgin olive oil
leaves from small bunch basil, 20g to serve

Boil water for pasta, waiting for it to boil before salting it. Add pasta and cook according to packet instructions. Make the sauce by putting all remaining ingredients except the basil in the food processor and blitzing until you have a rubbly-textured sauce.
Remove a cupful of pasta cooking water before draining the pasta and add 2 tablespoons of it down the funnel of the processor, pulsing as you go.
Tip the drained pasta into a warmed serving bowl. Pour and scrape the sauce on top, tossing to coat (add a little more pasta-cooking water if you need it) and strew with basil leaves.


COMMENTS: This quick pasta from an old 'delicious' is great for a last minute dinner after work but that doesn't mean it isn't really tasty. Careful not to overcook the spaghettini - it is ready in about 2 minutes. I might try it with goats cheese instead of ricotta next time.


250g spaghettini (thin spaghetti)
4 tablespoons fresh ricotta
a knob of unsalted butter
a few handfuls of baby spinach leaves
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
juice & zest of one unwaxed lemon, plus extra to garnish
a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Cook spaghettini is a large pan of lightly salted boiling water according to packet instructions. Drain well, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Return drained pasta to the pan.
Combine the ricotta with the reserved cooking water, then add to the the pasta. Add a few handfuls of spinach leaves. Stir in the parsley, lemon zest and juice. Season to taste with lots of freshly ground pepper, a little salt and a small pinch of nutmeg. Garnish with extra zest and serve immediately.


COMMENTS: This Greek pasta bake from "kitchen coquette" by Katrina Meynink is satisfying comfort food. It's suitable to make ahead and freeze.


500g risoni
2 eggs, lightly beaten
50g parmesan, grated
10g panko crumbs

Meat sauce
80ml olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1kg lean minced ground beef
200ml red wine
400g tinned chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato puree
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons oregano, chopped
3 bay leaves
100ml water
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

White sauce
115g butter
115g plain flour
1.25L milk, plus a little extra if necessary
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

For the meat sauce, heat the oil in a saucepan over medium  heat, add the onion and garlic and sweat until the onion is translucent. Stir in the beef and fry over high heat for 5 minutes, or until browned. Add the red wine, tomatoes, tomato puree, cinnamon stick, ground cloves, oregano, bay leaves, water and salt and pepper and simmer for an hour or until reduced. Remove from heat, discard the cinnamon stick and bay leaves and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 180*C. Grease a 23*33cm shallow ovenproof dish.
Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add the risoni and cook until just al dente. Drain well, transfer to a large bowl and let cool slightly.
For the white sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, add the flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Gradually stir in the milk and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and leave to simmer for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with the nutmeg and salt and pepper and keep warm over low heat, stirring now and then and adding more milk if the sauce begins to get a little too thick.
Stir 250ml/1 cup of the white sauce, the beaten eggs and half the parmesan into the warm risoni. Spread one-third of the pasta over the base of the prepared dish and cover with half the meat sauce. Repeat the layering with the remaining pasta and meat sauce, finishing with a layer of pasta. Spoon on the remaining white sauce, top with the parmesan and sprinkle on the panko crumbs. Bake for 40 minutes until bubbling and golden brown.


COMMENTS: This simple pasta dish is great for the whole family or to feed a crowd. Adjust the chilli and garlic to suit adults or kids.


800g penne pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
300g chopped bacon bits
8 shallots chopped with scissors
3 cloves garlic
2 chillies, chopped
800g canned whole tomatoes
1 cup frozen peas
To serve:
basil leaves
grated parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to packet instructions. Cook peas according to packet instructions. Heat oil in pan and fry bacon bits until starting to brown. Add shallots, garlic and chilli and cook for 3 minutes or until soft. Add tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes then add cooked peas and stir through. Drain al dente pasta and add to sauce pan and toss to combine. Serve topped with basil leaves and parmesan. 


COMMENTS: This receipe is adapted from delicious "ultimate pasta" booklet. I served it with home made fettucini but any long pasta would work.


400g pasta
4 zucchini
1/3 cup olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 small chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped
300g fresh crabmeat
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
finely grated zest & juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup grated parmesan, plus extra for serving
1/2 cup roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley

Cook the pasta and drain, reserving 1/2 cup of cooking water.
Finely slice the the zucchini into ribbons using a vegetable peeler or mandoline. Heat oil in a large frypan over medium heat. Cook garlic, zucchini and chilli, stirring, for 1-2 minutes to soften slightly. Add crab, pine nuts and lemon zest. Stir for 1 minute until heated through. Add pasta, pasta cooking water, lemon juice, parmesan and parsley and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then serve with extra parmesan, if desired.


COMMENTS: This spiced rice by Karen Martini in Sunday Life was the perfect accompaniment to the Greek style lamb shanks as well as the beef & orange daube. I cooked it ahead of time then reheating it before serving adding the feta and walnuts on top. It was also very tasty the next day.


30mls extra virgin olive oil
50g butter
1 brown onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, sliced
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons ground allspice
450g basmati rice
flaked salt, to taste
1.2L boiling chicken stock
100g feta, crumble
100g tasted walnuts, chopped and seasoned
juice of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 170*C fan-forced (190*C conventional).
Place oil and butter in a medium pot over a high heat. Add onion and garlic and fry for 3 minutes, then add bay leaves, allspice, rice and salt and stir to combine. Add boiling stock, then tip mixture into a large ovenproof dish. Bake in oven for 35 minutes or until rice is cooked and liquid is absorbed, then allow to stand for 5 minutes (the rice should be dry, cooked and a little sticky, like a pilaf). Scatter feta and walnuts over rice and finish with a squeeze of lemon. 


This pasta dish from delicious "ultimate pasta" booklet is effectively pasta with a bolognese sauce. The red wine gives it a full flavour.


2 tabs olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tab chopped rosemary leaves
500g lean beef mince
1 cup dry red wine
3 cups beef stock
2 tabs tomato sauce
500mls tomato passata
2 tsp caster sugar
1 bay leaf
1 tab chopped parsley
1 cup frozen peas
shaved parmesan to serve

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook onion for 1-2 minutes until soft. Add garlic and rosemary, and cook for 1 minute. Add beef and cook, breaking up lumps with a wooden spoon, for 5 minutes or until browned. 
Add wine, stock, tomato paste, passata, sugar and bay leaf. Season well and bring to the boil, then cover and reduce to low heat. Simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in pasta, peas and 1 cup of boiling water, and cook for a further 8-10 minutes until pasta is al dente, stirring often to keep from sticking. Stir in parsley and serve with parmesan.


COMMENTS: This pasta is super easy to prepare using ingredients in your pantry and fridge. It uses the classic combination of smoked salmon, Philadelphia cream cheese and capers. 


300g pasta shells
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 leek, chopped
100g smoked salmon
2 tablespoons chopped semi dried tomatoes
1 tablespoon Philadelphia cream cheese
1 tablespoon chopped dill
1 tablespoon chopped chives
zest & juice of half a lemon
1 teaspoon baby capers

Cook pasta in salted boiling water until al dente & drain. Meanwhile heat olive oil in a fry pan and fry the leek until soft. Add the cooked pasta to the pan with the other ingredients and mix to combine before serving.


This recipe comes from Bill Granger's "Holiday". It uses pork & fennel sausages but you could use any of the gourmet sausages from your butcher. You could also add some pine nuts.


400g rigatoni
sea salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
500g pork & fennel sausages, casings removed, meat crumbled
125mls (1/2 cup) chicken stock
1 bunch rocket, roughly chopped
freshly ground pepper
freshly grated parmesan to serve

Cook the rigatoni in a large saucepan of lightly salted boiling water until al dente. Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.  Add the onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until soft.  Add the garlic and rosemary and cook, stirring, for another minute.  Add the sausage meat and stir with a wooden spoon to break up the meat.  Cook, stirring, for 6-7 minutes until the sausage meat is golden.

Add the chicken stock and simmer for 3-4 minutes until reduced by half. Stir in the rocket and season with black pepper. Toss through the pasta and serve with grated parmesan.


This recipe comes from Cafe Sopra at Fratelli Fresh, Waterloo. 


2 fennel bulbs
400g orecchiette
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon salted baby capers, rinsed
Grated rind and juice of half lemon
200g smoked trout fillets, baked
4 tablespoons chopped flat leaf pars ley


1. Finely chop the fennel fronds and set aside, then thinly slice bulbs.

2. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water according to packet instructions or until al dente. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large frypan over medium-low heat.

3. Add sliced fennel and cook, stirring occasionally for 3-4 minutes until softened, add capers, lemon rind and juice, trout, parsley and reserved fennel fronds.

4. Season with salt and pepper, stir to combine, then remove from the heat. Drain the pasta, toss through the trout mixture and serve immediately.

Garnish with extra parsley.

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17.05 | 21:12

very nice

18.02 | 07:27

i would like a small turkey breast and turkey neck recipe - not dietic

30.07 | 18:59

Excellent salad recipes and not time consuming to prepare ,Ursula

14.01 | 23:22

Hi Sam, I would love to receive updates for your fabulous blog. Keep up the great work!

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